Can you see what I mean? The effects of iconic gestures on early word learning
This study examined the impacts of co-speech iconic gestures (CS-IG) on fast-mapping in typically developing (TD) children. Twenty-three TD children 5-8 years of age were exposed to 6 novel toys – half referenced with a novel word and an IG depicting the object’s action, half referenced with a novel word only. Participants were tested on word and gesture production and comprehension immediately following the exposure task and after a 10-minute delay. Results demonstrated that 7-8-year-olds performed better than 5-6-year-olds in immediate word production tasks, and that both age groups had better gesture production and comprehension performance after a delay when words were paired with gestures. Gesture comprehension also increased after a delay when words were not paired with gestures. CS-IG did not improve fast-mapping of novel words contrary to research with younger TD children. However, children gleaned information about the action performed on an object and strengthened this representation over time.